January 04, 2013 Articles

What's the Point with Pinterest?

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By Lindsay A. Victor

The Internet is pulsing over the newest social-media prodigy, Pinterest. Pinterest has over 20 million users, including First Lady Michelle Obama, making it the third most popular social- media site behind Facebook and Twitter. It may even be the fastest-growing social-media site ever. Pinterest allows its users (known as "pinners") to "pin," or bookmark, interesting items to various "boards" to help organize and remember the fabulous things available on the web. Users can pin anything from inspirational images to recipes, wedding ideas, and even videos.

To enable pinning to its website, Pinners install a button on their toolbar. When a user comes across a beautiful image of the Himalayas, for instance, the user clicks the "Pin It" button, and the image is added to one of his or her boards. What are actually pinned to boards are images serving as visual reminders of the items the Pinner loves. So, instead of a long list of websites in a "favorites" folder, Pinterest users have a visual collage of their favorite links that they can show the world.

These pins can be socially shared with other users through a process referred to as "repinning."  When a user visits Pinterest, the user sees a series of 190 pixel-widethumbnails that have been pinned to other Pinners' boards. Seeing one of interest, a user may click the thumbnail, and a full-size image pops up. If the user wants to know more, each pin added using the toolbar button links back to the site it was pinned from.

Companies are now establishing their own Pinterest accounts as a way to expand their social- media presence and drive traffic back to their sites. For instance, popular department store Nordstrom has a Pinterest account with images of different clothing trends. Even traditional media companies are leveraging Pinterest as a new way to interact with readers. For example, the Wall Street Journal recently has encouraged users to create boards with images that inspire them, and the paper will spotlight the best boards.

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